I’ve been putting off watching this movie for quite a while now and I really don’t know why. Sexy Beast is a British crime movie with a lot of black humor and an excellent cast. It even features a heist so I should’ve caught it much, much earlier. It’s short, engaging, hilarious but more importantly, very authentic. It paints a vivid picture of what an actual life of crime is and how it might play out for you. Especially if you’ve been watching all those Guy Ritchie movies. Actually, this is the reason why I had bad vibes about it, I thought it was going to be just another generic British crime flick.
Sexy Beast opens with our lead character, Gal sunbathing next to his pool. Gal is a retired safecracker living his best life in sunny Spain. However, there’s always that one last job waiting for him. And right away you feel that this isn’t going to be your run-of-the-mill British gangster movie. That image of lobster-red Ray Winstone laying next to the pool has been seared into my memory for all times. And not just because I’ve seen too many Brits suffering the same potentially skin-cancerous fate. No, there’s something much deeper here.
You need to think of Sexy Beast as a British minimalist The Godfather without the whole family mess. It’s going to hit you in waves, crushing you with its intensity and authenticity. And we haven’t even got to the best part, the cast. And while Ray Winstone gave another great performance, Ben motherfucking Kingsley destroyed his role! Don Logan is one of the most memorable, fascinating, and disgusting characters to ever grace the screen. In fact, other actors were so terrified by his performance that they had trouble remembering their lines. We also shouldn’t forget about always good Ian McShane and Cavan Kendall in his last role.
Gal is a retired criminal who decided to never break the law again. He, his wife DeeDee, and a couple of friends spend their lives drinking, smoking, and relaxing in Spain. Everything seems to be going rather well when one day out of the blue, he finds out that Don Logan is coming. Don is his former partner in crime and he’s coming to Spain to offer him one last job. One last job that seems too easy to be true…
Sexy Beast reminded me of another great but awfully underrated British crime thriller, The Hit starring Terence Stamp. It features a similar story of a man who seems unable to escape his past. However, the characters here are much more relatable. We can kind of all feel for Gal, a man who’s had a difficult life but is now finally enjoying his retirement. So what if he broke a couple of rules, it’s not like the system is fair. Plus, there’s no honor amongst thieves or criminals, no matter what they say. So, he knows just how lucky he is to be able to live this kind of life.
To be honest, I dream of living the same kind of life, only in Greece. One day, one day, my friends. The atmosphere is suspenseful and immersive. You feel like you’re fucking there whether we be in sunny Spain or rainy England. Add to this a razor-sharp script, phenomenal narration by Winstone, and unpredictability of the story and you got yourself a motherfucking hit! The thing I liked most about this movie is its slimness. There’s no fluff here or overdrawn long scenes. No, this is a different kind of a beast, a sexy beast.
Finally, speaking of beasts, I cannot help but wonder if those nightmarish sequences with a monster holding a gun are an homage to An American Werewolf in London? What do you think? I tried looking for answers but haven’t found any. And if you’re looking for movies like Sexy Beast check out In Bruges if you haven’t already.
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Writers: Louis Mellis, David Scinto
Cast: Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, Ian McShane, Amanda Redman, Cavan Kendall, Julianne White
Fun Facts: Sir Ben Kingsley claims the character of Don Logan is largely based on his grandmother.